What to Serve With Shrimp Cocktail: 15 Appetizing Pairings

As I stand in my kitchen on this chilly Tuesday in January, gazing longingly at a platter of chilled, succulent shrimp awaiting their destiny, one pressing question weighs on my mind: what to serve with shrimp cocktail? This seafood appetizer staple, featuring tender shrimp bathed in a tangy, spicy cocktail sauce, is a classic crowd-pleaser. But shrimp cocktail’s simplicity can make it seem incomplete without the right accompaniments.

In this article, I’ll explore the versatility of shrimp cocktail and recommend 15 appetizing options for what to serve with this timeless appetizer, from lighter sides like melon skewers to heartier pairings like crab cakes. With the right supporting players, shrimp cocktail becomes the star of an impressive appetizer spread.

Elevating Shrimp Cocktail with the Right Accompaniments

While shrimp cocktail needs nothing more than the shellfish and sauce to shine, the right side dishes can elevate the experience. Pairings should complement, not overwhelm, the shrimp. Lighter starters keep the focus on the shrimp, while more substantial appetizers turn shrimp cocktail into a whole meal.

Seafood sides emphasize the briny ocean flavors. Produce brings brightness and freshness. Fried and cheesy appetizers provide comforting contrast. And a few sweet pairings intensify the flavors even further. With so many options for appetizers and small plates, the possibilities are endless.

15 Winning Ways to Round Out Your Shrimp Cocktail

When hosting guests or simply treating yourself to shrimp cocktail, you’ll want the right supporting cast. Here are 15 appetizing options to serve alongside briny shrimp cocktail, from classic seafood starters to unexpected flavor pairings:

1. Caprese Skewers

Sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and milky mozzarella make these skewers a light and bright pairing. The tomatoes’ acidity cuts the richness while the cheese offers an indulgent contrast to the shrimp.

2. Avocado Salsa

Creamy, rich avocado gets blended with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime juice and spices for a cooling, flavor-packed dip. Scoop it up with the shrimp or crackers. The creaminess complements the cocktail sauce.

3. Lump Crab Cakes

For an indulgent upgrade, serve tender crab cakes brimming with sweet lump crabmeat next to the shrimp. The extra ocean flavors team up for a luxe seafood spread.

4. Oysters Rockefeller

On the half shell, oysters get blanketed in an irresistible topping of butter, parsley, breadcrumbs and Parmesan before broiling. The two types of shellfish make decadent companions.

5. Parmesan Zucchini Fries

For some crunch, swap classic fries for zucchini variation. Crispy panko-coated spears served with lemon aioli balance out the shrimp’s richness.

6. Mussels

Plump mussels steamed in white wine, garlic and herbs offer a shareable snack for dipping in the cocktail sauce. The briny bivalves join forces with the shrimp.

7. Stuffed Mushrooms

Earthy mushrooms like cremini get their caps stuffed with sausage, cheese and seasonings for a hearty, flavorful bite. They add comforting substance alongside the shrimp.

8. Oyster Cocktail

For shrimp lovers who also enjoy slurping oysters, oyster cocktail doubles the bivalve fun. The mollusks offer a similar sweet brininess.

9. Fried Calamari

Crispy, golden fried calamari rings with a lemon wedge or marinara sauce offer the satisfying crunch of seafood deep-frying. The lighter shrimp balance the greasiness.

10. Smoked Salmon Rolls

Buttery rolls get topped with velvety slices of smoked salmon, sour cream and caviar or capers. The creamy, rich salmon makes a luxe pairing.

11. Fried Mozzarella

For familiar comfort, try crispy fried mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce on the side. The gooey cheese makes a crowd-pleasing counterpart to the shrimp.

12. Baked Brie

Oozy, melty brie rounds encased in puff pastry serve up serious indulgence. Spread on crackers or bread with sweet jam. Brie’s creaminess differs from the cocktail sauce’s.

13. Stuffed Dates

Sweet, sticky dates get their pits replaced with a savory filling like cheese or sausage, then wrapped in bacon. The contrast delights.

14. Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Tender roasted asparagus gets blanketed in thin, salty prosciutto slices that accent the vegetable’s subtle sweetness. The ham’s saltiness offsets the shrimp.

15. Melon and Prosciutto Skewers

Alternating chunks of honeydew or cantaloupe with folded prosciutto makes for a sweet-salty flavor explosion. It’s a light fruity pairing.


With so many options for appetizing appetizers and small plates to serve alongside shrimp cocktail, you can turn this simple seafood snack into an impressive party spread. Lighter sides like melon skewers or caprese keep the meal feeling fresh, while heartier appetizers like crab cakes or stuffed mushrooms offer indulgent satisfaction.

No matter your tastes or the occasion you’re hosting, shrimp cocktail has the versatility to be the star with the right supporting cast. So the next time you’ve got a platter of chilled shrimp ready for dipping, consider one of these 15 mouthwatering ways to serve shrimp cocktail and take this classic appetizer to new heights. Your guests will be thrilled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *